With Christmas just around the corner, we’re well into the festive season and for many of us this is the most hectic time of year. We’ve finished celebrating the end of year work commitments and we just want a well-deserved break, but for most of us this isn’t possible. We tend to fit more social occasions into December, than we do all year. To add to this we’ve got excited children, endless days spent with the family, Christmas shopping and lots of food. We’re so busy trying to make everyone else happy, we often forget how important it is to keep ourselves happy and healthy at this busy time of year.
One of the best things about yoga is that you can practice it anywhere in the house, which is especially beneficial if you don’t have time for the gym or your usual fitness routine. Yoga is great for stretching, de-stressing and most of all taking time out for yourself. We’ve summarised the top five yoga poses that will help you survive the festive period:
1. Child’s pose (Balasana)
If you’re surrounded by excited children, chatty or even arguing relatives, Christmas soundtracks and never-ending Christmas films on TV you just need to take five minutes out. With the intension of relieving stress and quietening the mind, this is the perfect pose for you.
Begin on all fours, spread the knees and keep the toes touching. Sit up straight and lengthen the spine up through the crown of your head, whilst breathing in. Upon exhalation bow forward draping your torso through your thighs (pictured above). Rest your forehead on the floor and hold for a total of one minute.
2. The Legs-up-the-wall position (Viparita Karani)
The legs-up-the-wall is another pose that aids relaxation. In just 5-10 minutes, swollen feet and legs are relieved and the hamstrings and lower back are stretched eliminating tension and leading to a slowing down within your body.
Before starting, make sure you’re warm and comfortable by using a cushion as support under the lower back. If it’s been a long day or you’re tired use the wall to hold your legs up. Be sure to continue breathing slowly and steadily and leave all your stresses behind.
3. The seated spinal twist
During the festive period, we tend to eat and drink a lot more than we probably should. We have no problem over indulging on Christmas day, happily helping ourselves at buffets and enjoying a glass (or a few) of wine at the works do. After all, it is Christmas. This can wreak havoc on our digestive system, especially if we’ve no time for exercise. You only need a few minutes a day for this position, and it will increase spinal flexibility and aid digestion.
Simply sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, with your right leg over the left. Begin to turn your torso to the right, using your left arm to deepen the rotation. Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh pushing your right foot into the floor. Whilst you hold this position, sit tall and keep the spine straight.
4. The kneeling pose (Vajrasana)
Another Christmas tradition is to leave everything until the last minute. We rush to the shops, frantically searching for Christmas presents for a never-ending list of relatives. Then we traipse round the shops in search of the perfect turkey and sacks of veg. As soon as Christmas is over, we’re lured in by discount signs on stuff we don’t really need. All this rushing around can cause feet to ache and cramp, and the weight of your shopping can cause you to feel pain in the neck and shoulders.
There are numerous alternatives to this position, and all of them are great for relieving tension in the upper back and shoulders whilst stretching aching and cramped feet.
Kneel either on the toes to release tension from tired feet or on the top of your feet to stretch the front of your ankles. Your arms can be in Garuda (eagle) position or hold the palms and elbows together.
5. Reclining twist with yoga pose
If you’re tired or feeling stressed and don’t have much time this is the best position for you. Resting here for ten minutes, on either side, restores your posture, relaxes the nervous system and reduces overall stress. You may want to try this in a quiet room and ask relatives and children not to disturb you.
Using pillows or cushions for support, bring your knees to one side of the bolster and lean forward placing the entire length of your torso, including your head, onto the bolster. Ensure every part of your body is facing the same way and focus on your breathing.
Remember, you don’t have to be a professional when it comes to yoga. Whether you’re a beginner or a yoga enthusiast, these poses are brilliant for helping survive the mayhem of Christmas.
Once it’s over and done with, why not treat yourself to a break from everyday life and join us on one of our Tranquillité Retreats, in France or the UK. You can find out more on our ‘Book a Retreat’ page.